The community unites to build the schoolyard ecosystem

BATAVIA, IL – The first phase of the Batavia High School’s yard transformation – transforming an underutilized space into a self-sustaining ecosystem – is complete. To mark the occasion, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce held an inauguration ceremony on November 10.

The mayor of Batavia, Jeffery Schielke, presided over the ceremony and he was accompanied by Elizabeth Faulhaber, professor of cultural studies at the BHS, also godmother of the staff of the ecology club of the secondary school, as well as Margaret Perreault, President and CEO of the Batavia Chamber.

The ecology club reaped the idea of ​​converting a 170ft by 35ft area into a tranquil space as an environmental project, a project intended to benefit not only the club but also any student seeking peace. on the campus.

“This space will meet the sensory needs of our students,” said David Kleinschmidt, a vocational special education teacher at the high school, in a previous statement. “The different types of surfaces, smells and views that the project will provide will satisfy students in need of sensory accommodation.”

Kleinschmidt also worked with other special education teachers to help the eco club plan the design for their students. In the future, they will continue to find ways for students to “play a bigger role in the whole yard project,” the statement said.

Students working on the project, “enthusiastically endorsed” by high school administrators, have secured funds and professional help with the design and installation, the Chamber said in a press release. One of the donors was the design and installation company Aquaspace, which provided the design and labor for the first phase of the yard project.

RELATED: Batavia HS Club Turns Yard Into Environmental Project

When Faulhaber contacted the St. Charles-based company last year, Ed Beaulieu, vice president of field research and entrepreneurial development at Aquaspace, said he “couldn’t resist the idea to volunteer for the design and build process “.

On October 8 and 9, students and volunteers built a shallow, elongated pond modeled on the Fox River in the backyard. Spanning a space of 30 feet by 10 feet, the pond also includes an inlet bay in its design to simplify maintenance, according to the company.

The staff of the city of Batavia donated limestone, recycled from a destroyed building, which was used to create a border for the pond. Batavia firefighters, along with volunteers, also carried logs to the school library to help naturalize the features.

“Our challenge was to work with a new group of students every few hours as they walked through the build process with our technical team,” said Beaulieu, who was unable to attend the ribbon cutting, in a statement. “Luckily two amazing young women stayed the entire build and led by example. the steps appropriate to their peers.

Ed Beaulieu, Abby Piwowarczyk and Eleni Salas thumbs up after a productive day of construction. (Courtesy of Aquaspace)

The club also organized fundraisers and secured donations of money and materials from local organizations including the Batavia Lions Club, Batavia United Way, Batavia Woman’s Club, and Chip In Batavia.

Now moving to phase two of the project, the students will work on transforming the yard covered with the remaining grass and incorporating native plants into the space. To help, Julie Christman, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, donated $ 5,000 as seed money.

The grant comes from the Judy Marzuki Endowment Fund for Nature and the Environment, created in 2012 by Marzuki’s brother, Jack, to “improve and protect the environment and nature which was such an important part of Judy’s life”. Marzuki, born in 1943 and died in 2000, was disabled from birth but found solace in nature and the outdoors, the fonds description indicates.

Anyone interested in helping or donating to the high school project can contact the Batavia Chamber of Commerce at 630-879-7134.

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